Wow, what an end to Season 6! This extra-long episode, “The Winds of Winter”, was packed full with tons of excitement, character reveals, and (of course since this IS Game Of Thrones) crazy deaths. As his was an extra-long episode, buckle in because this recap is extra-long as well!
If you’re not caught up with Game of Thrones, stop reading or prepare to be spoiled!
We start off watching everyone get ready and assemble in the Sept of Baelor as seven old white men assemble to represent the gods for Loras and Cersei’s trials. The scene cut back and forth between our different characters, and as everyone else either heads to the sept or stay in the Red Keep, Maester Pycelle is led underground my one of the “little birds”.
In the sept, Loras confesses to all of his crimes. He kneels and promises to renounce the Tyrell name, his lordship and claims on High Garden, as well as swearing off marriage and children. As his father and Margaery watch in horror, he has the seven pointed star carved into his forehead. In the Red Keep, The Mountain prevents Tommen from leaving his room.
Back in the sept, Margaery is angry at the High Sparrow as he had promised that Loras was free to leave once Cersei had stood trial. As Cersei has not shown up yet, he sends Lancel to bring her, who soon suspiciously follows another child underneath the sept instead. Elsewhere in the city, Pycelle finds himself face to face with Qyburn who asks for forgiveness as many other little birds assemble and brutally stab Pycelle to death. Lancel gets stabbed too, but is left alive enough to realize that he has been led to a huge room filled with wildfire. Seeing a light at the far end of the room, he drags himself towards it.
In the sept, everyone is still waiting. Margaery has figured out that something is wrong and she urges the high sparrow that everyone needs to leave. Cersei knew the consequences of not showing up to her own trial, and the fact that she has not shown means that she does not intend to suffer those consequences. Attempting to start an evacuation of the sept, Margaery is stopped by the faith militant. Underground, Lancel reaches the end of the corridor to see slowly dying candles sitting in pools of wildfire. In the sept, a roar is heard as the wildfire ignites, and everyone is given a moment to realize that they are doomed as the sept explodes.
In the Red Keep, Cersei drinks, smiles, and The Mountain leaves Tommen alone.
The next time we see Cersei, she has Septa Unella (also known as “the shame nun”) chained to a table and is waking her by pouring wine over her face. The roles from last season are now reversed, and Cersei demands that Unella “confess” that she enjoyed tormenting Cersei. Unable to get a confession, Cersei reminds the silent sister that she had promised the last thing she would see was Cersei’s face. However, that moment would not come for “quite a while” and Ser Gregor enters the room and removed his helmet for the first time revealing his gruesome face. Cersei walks away chanting “shame” as Unella screams.
In a stark contrast to the screams that Cersei left behind, Tommen accepts what I’m presuming is the news of his wife’s death in complete silence. In a beautifully framed shot, Tommen calmly removes his crown an leaves the frame momentarily only to suddenly reappear, climb up on the window frame, and fall to his death. Later, Qyburn shows Cersei her son, who demands that he be cremated and his ashes scattered where the sept once stood so that he could be reunited with his family.
At The Twins, Jamie and Walder Frey are toasting their recent victory at Riverrun. While Jamie plays wingman to Bronn, we learn that Edmure is back in his cell. Walder comes over to Jamie and draws parallels between them, saying that they are both kingslayers. I thought that this was such a great scene for Jamie, seeing all of the conflicting emotions play across his face was wonderful and reminded me of earlier seasons when he was with Brienne.
Later, as Jamie and Bronn arrive back at the capital and gaze upon the destruction that Cersei has wrought in their absence, they both seems wary. Jamie sneaks into the throne room just as Cersei, who is wearing some fabulous armored epaulets, is being crowned queen. The twins lock eyes. While Cersei looks like she is daring someone to challenge her, Jamie looks scared and disappointed. Hopefully next season we will see him escape Cersei’s influence.
We rejoin Walder Frey as he is eating alone, served by a young lady who Bronn had claimed was flirting with Jamie earlier. As she serves him a meat pie, he demands that she fetch his sons and is shocked when she replies “they’re here”. As is slowly dawns on him what she is implying, he lifts up the crust of the pie to reveal a finger. The girl comments that the two were hard to carve, and pulls off her face to reveal her true identity: Arya Stark. I lost my mind when this happened. In the books, it is implied that another Northern character bakes some Frey’s into a pie, and I excited that twist was being included in the show.
Arya cuts Wlader’s throat and checks another name off of her list. It really does make me wonder who she is going to check off next now that she has quite the arsenal of assassin skills now, and apparently at least one face at her disposal.
Sam, Gilly and Little Sam have finally made it to Oldtown just as scores of white ravens are being released. White ravens traditionally carry the news that winter is coming or has arrived. Sam goes to check in, and it turns out that the maesters do not have any record of Jon becoming Lord Commander or of Maester Aemon’s death. Gilly and Little Sam are not allowed inside, but Sam is permitted to use the library while he waits to sort out his enrollment.
This is the best library reveal I have seen since Beauty and the Beast. Sam and I both gazed with wonder at the sunlit room filled with books. The design of the room reminded me of the underground library in Avatar: The Last Airbender, only this library was not slowly sinking below the desert. Anyway, I am sure that Sam will be quite content to spend a very long time in that wonderful room, but I am not so sure what on earth Gilly is supposed to do in the meantime.
Fun Fact: that thing’s hanging from the ceiling is from the opening credits of the show!
Up north, Jon and Melisandre are interrupted by Davos, who angrily throws her the charred deer that he carved for Shireen. Apparently now that Davos is not busy planning a giant battle, it is finally time to bring up Shireen. Davos demands that Melisandre confess what she did and yells that her actions were not justified as all of Stannis’s army died because she was wrong. While Davos demands execution, Jon banishes Melisandre to the south upon pain of death.
As Sansa and Jon watch her go, they address the lack of trust they apparently have with each other. Sansa’s apology is not at all sufficient in my mind, but the two make up and swear to be a united front against their many enemies. Meanwhile, the white raven sent form Oldtown arrives and announces that the Stark’s words are true; winter in finally here.
Later on in the Godswood, Littlefinger confronts Sansa. He reveals plainly that all he has ever wanted was to be sitting on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side and that all of his actions are working towards that goal. As he moves closer to embrace Sansa, she stops him saying that while he has declared for many houses he has never stopped serving himself. As she walks away, he tells her that the North should be rallying behind her, not Jon.
While I am very happy that Sansa rejected Littlefinger’s advances, I believe that he has planted a seed of jealousy in her against Jon.
Olena Tyrell has made it to Dorne. In one of the many instances where time and space had no meaning in “The Winds of Winter”, the news has already reached her about the death of the rest of her house and she is decked head to toe in black as she addresses Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes. After some wonder banter that only Olena can provide, Ellaria promises her vengeance and justice, fire and blood, and Lord Varys walks out to join in the negotiations.
An ocean away, the subject of those negotiations, is dumping her boyfriend. Dany has decided that Daario and the Second Sons are going to stay in Meereen and keep the peace. After all, she cannot bring a lover to Westeros if she is going to secure an alliance through marriage. After leaving Daario, Tyrion begins to comfort her mentioning that only mad men like her father are not afraid when playing the great game that she is entering. Dany confesses that she is indeed frightened. Frightened because she just said goodbye to a man who loves her and she felt nothing.
She then turns to Tyrion and names him Hand of the Queen, presenting him with the traditional pin cast in silver instead of gold. This sequence was actually very emotional, and I am happy that Tyrion is no longer fumbling through politics and can be the diplomat that we know he is capable of being.
Beyond The Wall
Near the north side of the wall, Benjen says goodbye to Bran and Meera, telling them that the magic that keeps the White Walkers from passing through prevents him from doing so as well. Before he rides away, he mentions that the Great War is coming and he fights for the living. That is a comforting thought, but he leaves the two with absolutely nothing at the foot of a weirwood tree.
Bran plugs into the weirwood tree network once more and returns to the Tower of Joy as Young Ned is climbing up to rescue his sister. He finds Lyanna covered in blood, and she whispers into his ear before saying “You have to protect him. Promise me.” She reveals a newborn baby. As the baby cries, we cut to a close up of Jon Snow.
This is the official reveal of the longtime book theory behind Jon’s parentage: R+L=J or Rhegar + Lyanna = Jon. Since I’ve read the books and have suspected Jon’s parentage for a while I was not surprised but it was awesome so have the theory officially confirmed.
Jon Snow, excuse me… Jon Targaryon is holding a meeting with the lords of the north and the Vale, who are arguing over where their loyalties lie. Lyanna Mormont stands up and in a wonderful monolog calls out several houses on their crap. She claims that Jon is now the King of the North, and similar to the houses swearing their allegiance to Robb in Season 2, soon everyone is chanting “king of the North” and swearing their loyalty to Jon.
While this is going on, Sansa and Littlefinger lock eyes. I swear, if Littlefinger turns Sansa against her brother, I will be furious.
The final scene of the episode started with Yara and Theon gazing upon Dany’s badass dragon-helmed ship and ended revealing the entire fleet Dany had assembled as her dragons flew overhead.
This was a pretty awesome scene. Seeing all of the Dornish, Ironborn, Targaryon, and Tyrell sails together was astounding. It was pretty gratifying knowing that after 6 entire seasons wandering around Essos, Dany is finally headed to Westeros to take her throne.
So much happened in “The Winds of Winter”. It was a whirlwind, and I don’t think that they let anything sit for as long as they should have. It all felt rushed, we weren’t given time to let anything settle. This was already an extended episode, but I think that it should have been a full 90 minute special.
I am feeling Margery’s death the most. I really loved her character, and I am sad that such an adept player has left the game. In the after-the-episode segment with the showrunners, they mentioned that Cersei directly failed Tommen by not being with him when the sept blew up. Had Tommen not been left alone, he would not have fallen out of the window. That was a huge oversight on her part, and I think it will change her character drastically. Cersei has always been humanized by her love for her children. Now that they are all gone there is really nothing holding her back from complete and utter tyranny.
I am VERY excited for next season.
What did you think of “The Winds of Winter”?